CALGARY — It was as traumatic a day as I’ve ever been part of at the Saddledome in 25 years of covering the Calgary Flames.
No one knew quite what to say, or quite what to do.
Early on in the Flames’ noon-hour practice on Thursday, defenceman T.J. Brodie was standing by himself at the blue line during a drill when he suddenly buckled, fell to the ice and began convulsing as part of what looked like a seizure.
As his legs flailed while he lay on his left side, several players and coaches immediately rushed to his side to offer the support they could.
An ambulance was called by several members of the media, who watched the scary scene unfold. Others yelled down the hall for additional staff and medical staff to come to the veteran’s aid. Giving their fallen teammate plenty of room, players stood in shock as Brodie struggled, saying little to one another.
Ambulance and fire officials arrived within minutes to assist Brodie, who had GM Brad Treliving and coach Bill Peters by his side while he was tended to. Finally providing a small measure of welcome relief for onlookers, Brodie was able to sit up on his own before being taken off the ice on a stretcher.
Prior to that, several players skated by to gently tap him on the skate to let them know of their support. He looked groggy, perhaps stunned, but was alert when wheeled off the ice and transported to hospital for further tests and evaluations.
Practice was cancelled.
Shortly thereafter Treliving issued a tweet saying, “TJ Brodie experienced an episode on ice at practice today. He is alert and responsive and has been transported to local area hospital for evaluation. We will provide a further update when available. Thank you.”
For the next four hours we waited, wondering. Worrying.
It wasn’t until more than four hours later, just before 6 p.m. local time, that the team issued the following via Twitter:
“Following tests conducted at a local hospital, TJ has been discharged and is doing well in recovery at home with his family. A further update will be provided by Flames General Manager Brad Treliving at 9:45 a.m. on Friday, November 15th at the Scotiabank Saddledome.”
The relative struggles of the Calgary Flames so far this season were quickly put in perspective.
Right after Brodie was whisked away, players went behind closed doors to deal with the uncomfortable scene they’d witnessed. Understandably, they weren’t made available to the media.
Treliving had originally witnessed the scene from the owners’ suite before rushing to the aid of his fallen player. As Brodie was wheeled off the ice, Treliving was by his side, a position the GM took up with Brodie bed-side at the local hospital. Treliving was also seen on the phone, presumably with Brodie’s wife, Amber, with an update.
The media were cordoned off from the dressing room area and told updates would follow as information became available. It took forever.
Brodie is a 10-year NHL veteran from Chatham, Ont., who became a father two summers ago to daughter Severn. He’s quiet, rarely quoted, and likes it that way.
As we did for a handful of hours at the Dome afterward, the hockey world awaited news on his condition, with hopes he’d be resting comfortably, surrounded by some of the best medical minds in the province.
The news would eventually be even better.
The hockey world can exhale.
The Flames are slated to practice tomorrow morning before flying to Arizona for a Saturday afternoon game. The defenceman will not join his teammates on the road trip tomorrow, as he’ll instead remain in Calgary under medical supervision.
That said, nothing else is likely on the players’ minds other than what they saw.
It’s all I can think about too.